* Posts by Old Tom

216 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Mar 2009


Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Old Tom


Indeed, for a bob/shilling you could get 12 penny arrow bars, but only 10 for five of your new pence.

Old Tom

Per home usage

I always hate it when we're told some fantasy number of homes that power schemes will power. In this case they're saying that 196MWh will last 300,000 homes for two hours but that allows each home less than 1/3kW. Is 1/3kW a standard per-home figure in such calculations or do they just make numbers up to suit?

Locked out of Horizon Europe, UK commits half a billion to post-Brexit research

Old Tom

Re: "the UK remains open to association"

It's nothing to do with "getting EU funding", nobody's asking for EU funds. Sixteen non-EU countries participate in Horizon both paying and receiving funds (that's Horizon funds, not EU funds), membership of Horizon is not dependent on EU membership.

I refer you to the first part of the sentence that you quoted the end of - "The government is disappointed that the EU is still linking UK association with wider issues" - this is the nub of the matter: in the Withdrawal Agreement the EU and UK agreed that the UK would participate in ongoing research projects, including Horizon, but the EU have prevaricated on implementing that agreement on Horizon as a lever in the ongoing dispute over NI.

It's up to them if they want to make such mard-arsed 'I won't be your friend' decisions, but it looks like they are, and the UK can't wait forever and so allocating the would-be Horizon contribution to research within the UK.

Girls Who Code books 'banned' in some US classrooms

Old Tom

Re: Bow down before the market god

I won't repeat myself again after this, but anything with VAT on in a member state can not have its rate cut to less than 5%.

HM Gov did not lie, they could not go below 5% without either leaving or getting cross-state agreed and ratified permission; the latter had been fought/lobbied for for many years and was in fact in the very slow pipeline, eventually it might have been allowed but not in 2016, and I don't think even now.

If you negotiated exemptions when joining - as the UK did on food, books and children's clothing - then you can keep those VAT free. But once you add VAT to a formerly exempt product - as the UK did on household gas & electricity - you can't then remove it (hence the 5% rate we still have on household energy bills - HM Gov could now drop this, but choose not to do so).

Ireland included sanitary products (and "Supplies of wax candles and night-lights that are white and cylindrical, excluding candles and night-lights that are decorated, spiralled, tapered or perfumed") on their zero-rated list when they joined, the UK did not.

Old Tom

Re: Bow down before the market god


We had the power to drop to the minimum (5%), we were powerless to drop to zero.

Old Tom

Re: Bow down before the market god

"You're ignoring the part where the EU also removed the tax on those products shortly afterwards."

Citation please, as Ireland seems to be the only one zero-rating them (and that's a historic derogation, not a recent one).

Meta, Google learn the art of the quiet layoff

Old Tom

Re: An old trick in the US

UK workers rights often exceed EU ones - e.g. 52 weeks maternity leave (39 paid) v. 14 weeks paid, 2 weeks paternity leave v. none, 28 days annual leave vs 20 days...

The Equal Pay, Sex Discrimination, Health and Safety at Work and Employment Protection Acts didn't come from Brussels, the only significant improvement I can remember coming from the EU was the working time directive.

The UK is perfectly capable of maintaining standards outside the EU.

Braking news: Cops slammed for spamming Waze to slow drivers down

Old Tom

Highways Agency

Most times I see a police icon in Waze it turns out to be a Highways Agency patrol vehicle.

Left-wing campaign group throws weight behind BT strikes

Old Tom

Re: enough is enough

Well they describe themselves - https://wesayenough.co.uk/about-us/ - in a way that most people would call left wing. Are you really suggesting that they're not?

UK launches 'consultation' with EU over exclusion from science programs

Old Tom

We did leave the EU, of course - but in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement it was agreed that the UK would be (along with a dozen and a half other non-member states) a participant of the Horizon programme. Not being a member state doesn't have to prevent us remaining friends and collaborators.

Unfortunately, having decided that delaying ratification is a good bargaining chip against unrelated matters; the Commission are delaying ratification for political reasons. This is much to the chagrin of many EU academics and researchers - https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/eu-must-immediately-accept-uk-into-horizon-europe-say-blocs-research-leaders/

Mars Express orbiter to get code update after 19 years

Old Tom

Re: Astounding

"using a development environment based on Microsoft Windows 98"

It's very unlikely that it's the OS on the orbiter.

Apple to bin apps that go three years without updates

Old Tom

Re: Oh...THAT business model

Not just the annual fee, but...

  • you need to build with an approved version of XCode
  • the approved version of XCode requires an approved version of MacOS
  • the approved version of MacOS requires a new Mac every few years

John Deere tractors 'bricked' after Russia steals machinery from Ukraine

Old Tom

Re: the French did share information on the Exocet with the British

No according to today's Telegraph - the article claims that the British took apart an Exocet seeker head in order to help develop electronic counter measures.


Yes, Mark Zuckerberg is still pushing metaverse. Next step, language translation

Old Tom

Metaverse, Schmetaverse

This will never fly.

Have they not considered the percentage of Facebook activity that takes place in a browser tab as a sideline to what you're actually doing, on mobiles during transit, and while ostensibly watching the telly?

i.e. Most Facebooking is a secondary activity, can anyone here imagine ever thinking "I'll dedicate the next half hour to Facebooking"?

Zuck's C5 moment?

Randox's Certifly app for vaccinated international arrivals has to be side-loaded onto Android phones

Old Tom

For what it's worth...

"Randox can confirm the CertiFly app has been submitted to Google and is awaiting review." (Nov 2021)

This app is still not on Google Play and still must be sideloaded. After checking and double-checking that you've downloaded the apk from randox.com, the first thing it does is ask to scan your passport. Red flags waving like mad.

Longest Google Play review period I've ever heard of! Must be the first app in history that got onto the iOS store and can't get on to Google Play. What the hell is going on with it?

What a clock up: Brit TV-broadband giant Sky fails to pick up weekend's timezone change, fix due by Friday

Old Tom

Re: More BST than GMT

The dates were set to the current ones when the EU harmonised clock switching in Directive 2000/84/EC. Before that, in the 90's, I think I remember Germany switching around the September/October cusp and the UK a week or two later.


Brewdog might make an OK pint but its security sucks: Flaw opened door to free beers for anyone

Old Tom

Re: Every mobile phone has a birthday

Although not the best, you probably got a reasonable pint in a Marston house whereas although Brew Dog might make reasonable beer, they insist on serving it fizzy and over-chilled.

Oh the humanity: McDonald's out of milkshakes across Great Britain

Old Tom

Border Bureaucracy?

"Brexit has made it more expensive for drivers from the continent to work in Britain. Hauliers tend to be paid by distance rather than hours worked so additional border bureaucracy and delays hit their salary."

How often on a typical run does a driver delivering milkshakes to McDonalds outlets get delayed by border bureaucracy?

Buyout of British defence supplier Ultra Electronics paused by UK.gov over competition concerns

Old Tom

Re: Sovereignty

Trident missiles use astro-inertial guidance - they look at stars, they don't piss about with GPS.

Maintenance in US because it's cheaper than having our own facilities, this does not give the US any control over missiles not undergoing maintenance.

Verified: UK.gov launching plans for yet another digital identity scheme

Old Tom

Re: Don't hold your breath #3

The NHS Covid app will not be your 'Covid Passport', that's already included in the NHS app - and that does phone home, indeed you have to sign-in every time you run it.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web NFT fetches $5.4m at auction while rest of us gaze upon source code for $0

Old Tom

I wouldn't want a 'luxury brand' at all, whether in the real or digital world.

Treaty of Roam finally in ashes: O2 cracks, joins rivals, adds data roaming charges for heavy users in EU

Old Tom

Re: Ummm..

It's almost as if a couple of large international telecoms companies have announced excess data roaming charges (that they could have applied anyway were we still EU members) on the 5th anniversary of the referendum just to ensure that people would blame Brexit rather than them.

Roger Waters tells Facebook CEO to Zuck off after 'huge' song rights request

Old Tom

Re: Mooseman

I'm with you on the talking/phone call things, but gigs are best experienced with beer, which does mean that one occasionally needs to go to the bar/toilet - it would be best if you didn't place yourself in a high-traffic place.

Google says once third-party cookies are toast, Chrome won't help ad networks track individuals around the web

Old Tom

René Magritte

Recently I couldn't remember René Magritte's name; a google search or two later and my memory was jogged, case over. Except that I then see adverts featuring some of his work for weeks afterwards.

'Targetted Advertising' is complete rubbish.

(And we've all had those repeated adverts for something we've already bought or that we never wanted to buy but recently researched.)

Seagate UK customer stung by VAT on replacement drive shipped via the Netherlands

Old Tom

Re: Seagate need to adjust their operations.

For Seagate to absorb the VAT in this case by sending it first to Seagate UK, paying the VAT, then shipping it to the customer ...

VAT is payable when goods/services are sold/bought. Seagate UK would neither buy nor sell the replacement, no VAT would be due.

Old Tom

Seagate need to adjust their operations.

Seagate are well aware of problems like this - their statement acknowledges it. Their behaviour and statement on this occasion are pretty shitty. Companies of this size should get their act together, recognise that UK customers are not in the EU and adjust their operations appropriately.

(This applies whatever you think of Brexit.)

1Password has none, KeePass has none... So why are there seven embedded trackers in the LastPass Android app?

Old Tom

Re: Congrats to El Reg

I'm pretty sure that El Reg is still in Europe.

European Commission redacts AstraZeneca vaccine contract – but forgets to wipe the bookmarks tab

Old Tom

Re: vitriolic comments

The vitriolic comments are a reaction to Ursula von der Leyen's comments and behaviour. Slagging off AZ, raiding the production site, threatening the UK's supply of Pfizer/Biontech, putting a border between Ireland/NI. Behaving like a tantrum-infused child in reaction to her/the Commission's own failure.

That border provision is supposed to be a last resort and she's taken less than 4 weeks to abuse it. Furthermore she did it against advice, and without consulting - or even informing - relevant parties (Irish Taoiseach, UK PM, NI Executive).

She's been asserting a contractual situation that is not borne out by the now-published contract with its Estimated Delivery Schedule. If she were to resign, I'm sure things would calm down much quicker.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

Old Tom

Large crowds / widlerness

I regularly listen to FM radio using my mobile phone; it much works pretty much everywhere, anytime.

If I'm competing with thousands of others for the local tower's capacity in/around a football stadium on match day I doubt that I'd get the throughput to listen to a live Internet radio stream; if I'm in the wilderness, there is no internet radio. This is why my personal minimum spec for a phone includes FM radio.

Other negatives for streaming include the required data allowances and the massive latency of the broadcast - listen to streamed football commentary and your 'latest scores' app will notify you of a goal/event way before you hear it happen on the 'live' broadcast. Also, I'd be very surprised if streaming used less power than FM

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

Old Tom

Did he really promise a “world-beating app.”?

My recollection is that he promised a world-beating track and trace system, to which the app contributed. That may well not have been delivered, but unless someone can point me to it I don't think he ever said the app would be world-beating.

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

Old Tom

"once Brexit is finally cancelled."

You know it happened on 31st January 2020?

Total Eclipse to depart: Open-source software foundation is hopping the pond to Europe

Old Tom

Re: Why?

The copy included the words 'Europe' and 'Brussels'. Some obsessives - mostly those that still don't get it - think that you have to mention Brexit whenever these words are used; many think that Brexiteers don't like Europe or Brussels (not realising that the UK is still in Europe).

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register

Old Tom

Re: And this is why the Aussies are on top of it

This half school year can be generally be written off - not because the teachers have not tried to provide remote work for the children, but because so many children (with their parents blessing) have not done any of the work

Maybe some teachers have bothered, I'm unaware of anything other than vague stuff on Twitter from my kids' school.

Meanwhile - if any work was set - some of us parents are working full-time, and while we would love our children to stay quiet and get on with educational things, we have our own work to do.

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

Old Tom

Re: Apple-Google API

The API requires Android 6.0 or higher, not 8.

Brexit Britain changes its mind, says non, nein, no to Europe's unified patent court – potentially sealing its fate

Old Tom

Re: The lawyers will be fine.

Except that the UK remains in the EPC regardless of whether or not it remains party to the UPC.

The dream of a single European patent may die next month – and everyone is in denial about it

Old Tom

Re: Brexit voters will be happy

As far as I can tell from minimal research, neither the European Patent Office nor its parent the European Patent Organisation is in any way connected to either the EU or the Euro Zone.

Say GDP-aaaR: UK's Information Commissioner pours £275k fine into London pharmacy's teaspoon

Old Tom

No, 'No Deal' plans will not apply if we leave as planned

"Come Jan 31, if the UK leaves the EU as planned, Brexit will trigger a statutory instrument that changes some text to create a "UK GDPR". The little kingdom's Data Protection Act 2018 will also get tweaked. You can see the expected changes here. ®"

No, your link is to changes planned for "the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal". Come Jan 31, if the UK leaves the EU as planned, 'no deal' plans will not come into effect. Please keep up.

(Unless, of course you're talking about Ben and Holly when you mention a 'little kingdom'.)

Uncle Sam challenged in court for slurping social media info on 'millions' of visa applicants

Old Tom

The whole gamut

My social media 'friends' are a mixed bag covering all sorts of opinion - between them they've likely posted both pro- and anti- <whatever you're thinking of> comments; my own comments might give you an idea of my character, but their comments absolutely will not.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a Ramblin' Man or Woman? Maybe brush up on your cartography

Old Tom

Re: Other options....

I did use Viewranger with 1:50000 OS maps in conjunction with paper 1:25000 OS map, but since the map codes I now have the 1:25000 in the OS app - so now I find that I don't look at Viewranger so much, although I still record trails with that as the OS trail recording was not fit for purpose last time I tried it.

Brexit? HP Inc laughs in the face of Brexit! Hard or soft, PC maker claims it's 'no significant risk'

Old Tom

Re: Y2K

The date was fixed, but vested interests remainers pushed it back, and keep trying to keep doing so.

You know the drill: SAP has asked Joe Public to name Munich arena so go forth and be very silly

Old Tom

Re: I hate "naming rights"

"City of Manchester Stadium springs to mind"

Possibly not the best example, as the concession from the council to allow sponsored naming of that stadium was part of an improved lease agreement that included a substantial rent increase.

Worried about Brexit food shortages? North Korean haute couture has just the thing

Old Tom

Re: Gotta love El Reg @AC

"but has also said she can't take no deal either."

No, they've said they don't want to leave with no deal; they haven't actually barred it.

Data flows in a no-deal Brexit are a 'significant' concern – MPs

Old Tom

Re: A cynic would say

"it's running up a large bar tab at your local hostelry"

More like your mates running up the bill with chasers, depth charges and hot nuts while you sipped on a small sherry.

Scumbag who phoned in a Call of Duty 'swatting' that ended in death pleads guilty to dozens of criminal charges

Old Tom

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

"wearing a very thick coat in summer"

We were given that misinformation early on, but he was wearing a denim jacket. The temperature in London that day was 17°C.

UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

Old Tom

Re: They should talk to Canada and India next

India is maybe a bit iffy for this, but yes we should talk to Canada. Nothing like Empire as you sneer, but as part of the logical progression of the broadening our horizons and increasing cooperation with the outside world that Brexit has fired the starting gun on.

In this particular case, as four of the Five Eyes alliance are the four Canzuk states, a Canzuk-base for an alliance on alt-Galileo would be a very sensible start.

UK getting ready to go it alone on Galileo

Old Tom


The UK Government has found it difficult to understand that if one stops being a member of a club, one loses access to that club’s facilities.

I find it difficult to understand that the EU aren't happy to agree a simple treaty with us to continue partnership on this. Are they going to go without the Falklands and Ascension ground stations? Do they wish to undermine our military cooperation with France and other EU27 NATO members? Looks quite like toys flying out of the pram.

Think tank calls for post-Brexit national ID cards: The kids have phones so what's the difference?

Old Tom

Re: FFS - NO

What about an ID card that you are not required to carry around?

You'd only need to take it out when you were going to pick up a parcel from the PO, or you wanted to prove your child is old enough to get into an age-restricted gig (with he child's card, not yours of course), or you look young and you want to stop off for a snifter or watch an 18-rated movie, or whatever. You'd just take that out instead of your driving licence. Can't really see the harm.

Great news, cask beer fans: UK shortage of CO2 menaces fizzy crap taking up tap space

Old Tom

Re: dress rehearsal

Blocks of dry ice are going to look a bit depleted after they've been sitting waiting for customs clearance for a few days.

Yes, because everything we import from outside the EU gets stuck for days at customs doesn't it?

Old Tom

Re: dress rehearsal

"Very reliant on imports from Scandinavia and also the Netherlands"

Treat it as a dress rehearsal for Brexit.

What, they're going to refuse to sell CO2 to us after Brexit?